Nanomaterials are defined as materials with at least one external dimension in the size range from approximately 1-100 nanometers. Nano-sized particles exist in nature and can be created from a variety of products, such as carbon or minerals like silver, but nanomaterials by definition must have at least one dimension that is less than approximately 100 nanometers. Most nanoscale materials are too small to be seen with the naked eye and even with conventional lab microscopes.
Materials engineered to such a small scale are often referred to as engineered nanomaterials (ENMs), which can take on unique optical, magnetic, electrical, and other properties. These emergent properties have the potential for great impacts in electronics, medicine, and other fields.
Engineered nanoparticles may be bought from commercial vendors or generated via experimental procedures by researchers in the laboratory (e.g., CNTs can be produced by laser ablation, HiPCO (high-pressure carbon monoxide, arc discharge, and chemical vapor deposition (CVD)). Examples of engineered nanomaterials include: carbon buckeyballs or fullerenes; carbon nanotubes; metal or metal oxide nanoparticles (e.g., gold, titanium dioxide); quantum dots, among many others.
Last date updated on June, 2014